I studied the map the night before departure.  I took note of routes and junctions and picked what I thought would be a simple trip down and around America’s (northern) West Coast.  We took the 5 to the 101, detoured on 116 to 1, traveled hundreds of miles north on 395 and made excellent time the whole way.  But it wasn’t as simple as it seemed on paper.  The 2-dimensional map I studied failed to capture the steep grade and windiness along the coastal cliffs of Mendocino and the mountains marked “Eastern Sierras.”  What was a terrifying drive for a newly licensed driver (me) was more than that: an exhilarating and fantastically beautiful trip for the senses.  The views were incredible and the air smelled so fresh.

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Two of my tripmates stretching their legs in scenic California

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The other half of the party posing with the snow-capped mountains.

On our way south, we camped in some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

First stop: Jessie Honeyman SP, OR

A picnic spot at  Jessie Honeyman SP in Florence, OR

Panther Flat Campground in Gasquet, CA

Panther Flat Campground in Gasquet, CA

View of the reservoir from our tent at Paradise Shores RV Park in Bridgeport, CA

View of the reservoir from our tent at Paradise Shores RV Park in Bridgeport, CA

Our meals consisted mostly of peanut butter (and sometimes banana) sandwiches with the occasional takeout meal.  Oh, and nightly s’mores.

One of many PB sandwiches on the best sliced bread I've ever tasted

One of many PB sandwiches on the best sliced bread I’ve ever tasted

Pizza from a food truck in Portland.  Wow.

Pizza from a food truck in Portland. Wow.

S'mores around the fire

S’mores around the fire

The trip took two weeks.  At times the heat was stifling and the mosquitoes maddening.  Sleeping on the hard ground left us sore and chilly and long drives led to leg cramps and hunger.  But I fell in love every day with this piece of America.  The sights, the sounds, the smells… I mean it, I’m in love.  The West is a place full of wilderness and adventure, and  I want a piece of it.  Someday soon, I will return.  In the meantime, I’m thinking that being on the couch is sometimes just as good as being on the road.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home



Vicarious travel // POSTCARDS 2014

Summer = adventure.  In a few weeks, I’ll be on the road to the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and possibly somewhere on the East Coast as well.  After that, I’ll hunker down here in Indiana and finish up my undergraduate degree.  Besides some day and weekend trips, I don’t see myself traveling very far in the coming year.  So until graduation, I’ll have to get by traveling vicariously through the blogosphere and the postcards of friends and family.  Here are a few favorites from my collection:

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Hearing from fellow travelers makes me happy.  Until I can go on some adventures of my own, I’ll be living through you, so show me your corner of the world – comment with a picture, a video, a story, a destination, a link, or anything else you can think of.   Happy travels!